Ukraine: Russia shows 'complete disregard' for Black Sea Fleet agreement in Crimea

March 4, 2014, 3:37 p.m. | Iryna Yeroshko

A Russian soldier stands near some 30 military vehicles outside a small Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoye, a tiny town some 33 kilometers outside the Crimean capital Simferopol, on March 3.
© Anastasia Vlasova

At the United Nations Security Council session on March 3, Russian representative Vitali Churkin insisted that by increasing its military strength in Crimea to 16,000 soldiers, the Russian Federation was still way below the threshold set up by the Black Sea Fleet agreement.

Signed in 1997, the agreement was last amended in 2010, when ousted President Viktor Yanukovych extended the Russian fleet's lease in Crimea to at least 2042, in exchange for a modest 10 percent discount on Russian gas imports.

Under the agreement, Russia can have up to 25,000 troops and personnel in Crimea, but there are plenty of conditions attached. In particular, only 1,987 members of the Russian military contingent can be marines and ground troops, according to Yevhen Perebyinis, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman.

On March 3, during the United Nations Security Council session, Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia also tweeted that Russian troops need to request permission from the Ukrainian authorities 10 days in advance to be able to leave their bases.

 “True, Russia can have up to 25,000 troops in Crimea, according to Black Sea Fleet agreements, but only on military bases and not around and armed with AKs,” the minister tweeted.

The National Security and Defense Council on March 3 also released a list of articles of the agreement violated by the Russian army.

Here are some of the violations:

1.According to the agreement, the total number of personnel, ships, vessels, arms and military equipment of the Russian Black Sea Fleet Fleet cannot be increased without prior agreement with Ukraine. However, the number of contingent grew from from 3,000 to 16,000 in the past week.

2.Russian military units are operating outside of their bases. They are blocking a number of government and infrastructural objects, including several military units of Ukraine's army. Attempts to disarm the Ukrainian servicemen have also been recorded.

3. Since Aug. 13, 2008, according to the National Security and Defense Council decision, Russians are obliged to notify Ukraine within 72 hours about any military units that are sent to the dispositions of the Black Sea Fleet and are crossing the state border, as well as to provide full information on the number and type of military weapons to be carried. On Feb. 28 eight Russian military helicopters, four Ilyushin Il-76 airplanes with paratroopers, and hovercraft “Zubr” were transported illegally from Russia to Ukraine.

“This indicates a complete disregard for these requirements by the Russian side. Russian policy towards Ukraine destroys the bilateral legal framework and the overall system of international law, which protection is a common cause for international lawyers around the world,” the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine said in its statement.